ADA assistance on CD-ROM

Restaurants do not have to provide menus in Braille, but police departments are expected to provide means for deaf people to effectively communicate when they are arrested, and state lottery ticket sales should be accessible to people with mobility impairments.

Those and lots of other facts about the Americans With Disabilities Act are now available from the Justice Department on a CD-ROM. The department, which enforces the ADA's ban on discrimination against people with disabilities, hopes to make information about the law more accessible than ever.

The disk, "Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance CD-ROM," is intended for use in laptop computers at work sites and other locations in the field where the ADA is applied by businesses, designers and building contractors, Justice officials said.

"The goal is to improve voluntary compliance," Attorney General John Ashcroft said when he announced the CD's availability July 26, the 11th anniversary of the signing of the ADA.

Information on the CD is aimed at small-business owners, contractors who design accessible buildings, municipal governments, and hotels and motels. It includes Justice regulations, architectural design standards and technical assistance publications.

The data is presented in a variety of formats, including HTML, Corel Corp.'s WordPerfect and ASCII, making it readily accessible to people who use Braille displays and screen readers.

Information on the disk is also available at Justice's ADA Web site (www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm).

The ADA requires that "reasonable accommodations" be made for people with disabilities. That can range from installing ramps in public places to accommodate wheelchairs, to providing TTY equipment that enables hearing-impaired people to use telephones, to offering training materials in Braille or on audio tape.

Accommodations need not be elaborate and costly. A survey by retail giant Sears showed that 69 percent of the reasonable accommodations made in its stores cost nothing; 28 percent cost less than $1,000; and only 3 percent cost more than $1,000, Justice reports.

For example, instead of printing menus in Braille, waiters can simply read menu items to blind customers, the department said.

The ADA was signed in July 26, 1990, and has become a centerpiece of President Bush's New Freedom Initiative.

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